13This service you have done will provide proof, and people will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the good news of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone. 14Their hearts will go out to you in their prayers because of God’s overflowing grace that is on you. 15Thank God for his indescribable gift! — 2 Corinthians 9:13
This passage comes as Paul describes what the church in Corinth and other churches in what we now know as Greece had done and were planning to do for the church in Jerusalem. There is a great deal that we can learn from the way that Paul deals with this offering. Paul calls for voluntary and cheerful gifts. The money is being carefully handled so that everyone knows it goes to those who are in need. The people plan for what they are going to do and then go about following their plan.
But what led me to this passage today was something different. The more I watch the work of ministry, and the way our churches function, the more I’m convinced that the very last thing we want to dedicate to God is our pocketbooks and bank accounts.
Now this isn’t a devotional calling for you to send me money. I’m not calling for you to send your money to your favorite televangelist in the hopes that God will give you 10, 100, or 1,000 times as much back. I’m thinking in simpler terms than that. I’m thinking of everything from your local church to your own community and how you live with them, and how we share both our joys and our hardships.
The proof of the obedience of the Corinthians to the gospel was provided by their generosity in providing for believers who were in need. Think about it! We often regard the provision of our resources, especially financial resources, as a sort of an add-on. But Paul calls it the proof, and it’s because of this proof that people will glorify God.
The ministry of your local church, and of dozens of local service agencies depends on the generosity of God’s people. The things we take for granted, like music in church, a preacher or teacher to present the word of God, Sunday School rooms for our children, and fellowship halls or community life centers all cost money, as well as time and prayers.
I run the risk in writing to a devotional list that those who are already giving feel put upon, and those who aren’t so involved don’t get convicted. But all I’m asking each person to do is to talk to God about your involvement in giving, especially to the ministries of your local church. Do what God directs. Don’t accept guilt from me or anyone else. Just talk to God.
Which is, when all is said and done, a good piece of advice on every issue!